You know, I get asked a lot of questions:
“How do you come up with new ideas?”
“Do you have any secrets on how to stay productive?”
“Why did you lock us in this basement and when are you going to let us go?”
Of course, not all of the questions are relevant to this post… in fact let’s just go ahead and ignore that last one. I know by my recent absence of updates it may appear as though my productivity has fallen within the last year or so, but it is actually the opposite. I’ve been spending the majority of my time working on my photography and photo editing skills, I worked on some new and quite large art pieces over the summer and everyone has to eat, right? I’m always trying new recipes from bite-size apps for get-togethers with friends to delicious comfort foods for a relaxing night at home.
Productivity as of late, has been in full swing. I am looking into expanding my art, with the hopes to make it not just for my walls but for other people to enjoy in their own homes as well. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated and focused, especially if you are working out of your own home. Luckily for you I’m going to share my top five requirements for completing a project. Everyone is different, but maybe if you’re feeling as though you’re in a bit of a slump some of these tips will work for you as well!
Essentials for Productivity
1. The Drive
No, I don’t mean you need to hop in your car and go for a ride. I mean the original, raw NEED to create something. I’ve started several projects that I just didn’t have that deep, unrelenting passion for. Guess what? Those projects are stored in my ‘unfinished and forgotten’ bin and they could be there forever or until I revisit those projects and feel a certain spark that I didn’t earlier. ‘The Drive’ doesn’t have to be complex (though it certainly can be), you don’t need to strive to save the world one brownie at a time. A lot of times my drive (when it comes to food in particular) is just to make something great, that people will enjoy every last bite of. When I make art, my drive isn’t to change the way people think or make a bold opinionated piece to get people talking (but if that is your drive than more power to you!). My drive is usually to make this piece better than the last, to be proud of my idea and myself and maybe to get a compliment or two when people see it.
My point: If you don’t have the passion to produce, you’re making it harder on yourself.
2. Making Mistakes and Failing
Okay… so how can making mistakes and failing at something boost productivity? Failing at stuff sucks. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating and most of all it can really shoot you down and make you feel low. Here’s the thing though, if you’re perfect at everything right off the bat, how are you ever supposed to learn and grow? Dealing with failure is a part of every-day life and if you’re thinking, “Not MY life!” than good on you, you’re perfect, congratulations. For the rest of us mortals however, it’s a common occurrence and it’s how you deal with your mistakes that can make or break you. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you thought they would, sometimes you burn your food because you were working on too many dishes at a time, sometimes all of your pictures come out blurry even though they looked in focus when you were taking them. If you lack the initial drive I was speaking of earlier the easy thing to do might be to get down on yourself and say, “Welp, I suck. I guess I give up on art, cooking or photography forever!”. You need that drive to push you through the failures, to make yourself work harder or figure out the problem. To grow from your mistakes and learn the lesson of, “Maybe I need to try new materials” or, “Maybe I need to manage my cooking times better”, or “Maybe I need to actually learn how to use my camera and not rely on auto-focus”. Without the drive, failure is a deal-breaker but with the drive, failure is just an obstacle that pushes you to work harder.
My point: Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.
3. Organization and Preparedness
This seems like a no-brainer but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. When I am working on a project (specifically one I plan to blog about), the first thing I tend to do is take a picture of all of the materials I will be using. I do this for two reasons; to have a picture of my materials to put on the blog, but more importantly I do it because it prepares me for my project. I have everything I need right in front of me and I can just jump right into it. Think of all of the time you’re saving by getting everything together ahead of time! It prevents future trips to and from your craft corner/pantry/supply closet which then prevents from distractions like, “Oh there’s that book I made out of our wedding cards! Let me just sit down for an hour and cry happily while I read it and relive memories… oh here’s the card from so-and-so, OMG their birthday is coming up, I need to make them a card. Now, while looking through card making supplies I’ve found that ribbon I wanted to make a headband out of, let me go put that in my room… Why am I here and what was I doing?” …
There’s a good chance this has happened.
My point: Get your supplies together ahead of time.
4. Blinders and Breaks
Speaking of distractions… have I mentioned the internet? It’s easier to go “off the grid” if I’m cooking, baking, painting, building or outside taking pictures. The phone and computer are separated from my workspace, I’m hands-on and focused on my work. It’s when I’m editing photos or sitting down and blogging that I need to put up some blinders and really hold myself back from the myriads of distractions that lay beyond a click of a button. It’s taking a lot of self control for me to not go on Facebook right now and scroll through my newsfeed. Why? I can guarantee nothing has changed since I scrolled through it before starting to write this post. Which brings me to the second part, breaks. You need to allow yourself breaks from your work and more importantly it’s essential to use them! Sometimes you need to just shut your brain off your work, especially if you feel stuck at a problem or overwhelmed. Shut it down and take some time. Go for a walk, have a coffee, read a chapter of a book, dance it out, check your social media, whatever. Do something that that either shuts your brain off completely or gets it focused on something else that has absolutely nothing to do with work. It’s in those moments that the greatest of epiphanies can strike us which in turn motivates us to get back to work.
My point: Allot specific times to allow yourself to be distracted and use them to their full potential.
5. Treat Yo’ Self!
Set goals and reward yourself for completing them! Sometimes satisfaction isn’t immediate and I think it’s okay for you to treat yourself for completing something you set out to do. I’m not saying to go buy yourself a car because you cooked a meal, you don’t have to purchase diamonds because you then blogged about the meal and then throw a party because three people liked it. Instead, reward yourself with two servings of potato chips for finally updating your blog (wink), read two chapters in that book instead of one during your break or spend three hours reading a thread on Reddit or watching Netflix and don’t feel guilty about it because you spent the last three days editing a stupid photo. Sometimes there are projects that just take up a lot of time, possibly eat away at your soul a bit. Maybe rewarding yourself for a particularly trying project is that extra incentive you need to push yourself to finish it and there’s nothing wrong with that.
My point: This one is self-explanatory, isn’t it? Treat yo’self!
Everyone is different and everyone’s work is different but these are ways that I find help me to stay focused and engaged in my work. I hope they are able to help you too! Now I need to work on the next step in my new endeavor, making money! There’s a lot of research that needs to be done when it comes down to selling your work, but wow, does today’s technology make it easy! It’s as simple as signing up for an account on Etsy, getting a small business loan from Kabbage (because one thing I have learned so far is that unfortunately, you need to spend money to make money) and boom, business made without leaving the couch! Boy, I just made it sound really easy didn’t I? Realistically, it’s the set-up and production that seems to be the hardest and most time consuming parts of the process.
Just remember (I’m saying this to you, but also to myself) to let your passion drive you, overcome failure, keep yourself organized, put up blinders to stay engaged in your work, allow yourself breaks and treat yourself!
I find it important to note that for the record, I do not have people locked in a basement.